Albert Roca returns to Hero ISL as head coach of Hyderabad FC

Hyderabad FC have announced Albert Roca as the club’s new head coach, with the Spaniard set to take full charge from the 2020-21 season. Roca, who guided Bengaluru FC to the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2017-18 final, has signed a two-year deal with Hyderabad which will see him helm the team till the end of the 2021-22 season. He will be advising Hyderabad’s new coaching staff for the remainder of the ongoing Hero ISL 2019-20 season before taking over the head coach’s role from the beginning of the next campaign.

The announcement comes on the back of Hyderabad parting ways with former head coach Phil Brown after an underwhelming start to the Hero ISL 2019-20 season.

Roca has over two decades of coaching experience all over the world and has also been in charge of the El Salvador national football team from 2014 to 2015. He has also worked as the assistant coach under the legendary Frank Rijkaard during his stint with FC Barcelona and Galatasaray.

The Spaniard has plied his trade in India before, having been the head coach of Bengaluru FC from 2016 to 2018. The 57-year-old arrived on Indian shores after taking over the reins of Bengaluru ahead of the 2016-17 season and helped mould the team into one of India's premier sporting institutions. Under him, Bengaluru earned the distinction of becoming the first Indian side to reach the final of the AFC Cup back in the 2016 edition of the continental competition. The Blues ultimately missed out on the title after losing the final narrowly to Iraq’s Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya but Roca didn't have to wait long for his first piece of silverware as he led Bengaluru to the Federation Cup 2017 trophy, beating Mohun Bagan in the final. Under his stewardship, Bengaluru also reached the AFC Cup 2017 semi-final, thereby becoming the first Indian side to reach consecutive semifinals in the continental showpiece.

The highlight of Roca's tenure at Bengaluru, however, came in the 2017-18 season as he helmed Bengaluru in their maiden Hero ISL season. The Spaniard's expansive style of football and tactical nuance shone on the grand stage, as Bengaluru reached the final after topping the league table and breaking multiple records en route. Unfortunately, the brilliant run didn't quite achieve the fairytale ending it deserved as Bengaluru lost the title to Chennaiyin.

The Spaniard's swansong at Bengaluru, however, was a successful one as he led the team to the inaugural Hero Super Cup 2018 trophy after overcoming Kolkata giants East Bengal in the final.

Roca's ability to build and nurture successful teams is well-documented and much of the same will be expected of him at Hyderabad, who are currently struggling at the bottom of the Hero ISL 2019-20 table with five points from 12 outings.

“India is special to me and I am delighted to go back to the Hero ISL. The road ahead is a challenging one and I am excited to get started at Hyderabad FC and build a strong team for next season and beyond. The intent from the club is strong and we will put our best efforts and compete to be at the top next season,” Roca was quoted as saying after formalizing the deal.

Varun Tripuraneni, co-owner of Hyderabad FC said “We are extremely delighted that Albert Roca has signed with the club. He has tremendous experience across the world and in Albert, we have one of the best coaches to have coached in India. We are looking forward to work with Albert and his team and provide him the best support.”

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